Hundreds of people protesting strict lockdown measures in Michigan ignored state directives on social distancing—and instructions from protest organizers—and gathered in front of the Capitol building in Lansing Wednesday. They were among thousands of people who came from across the state to clog Lansing streets in what organizers called "Operation Gridlock," the Guardian reports. The protest against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition. NPR reports that at least 200 people, some of them carrying rifles, got out of their vehicles to congregate around the building's steps. The protesters, who were not wearing masks, chanted slogans including "Lock her up."
Michigan has one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the US, with almost 2,000 deaths. Whitmer recently extended the stay-at-home order until April 30. "It doesn’t make any sense to be bankrupting companies and industries and not consider the resulting impact on families as part of the public health crisis in Michigan," a spokesman for the coalition tells City Pulse. "We’re the most restrictive state in the union right now." Whitmer expressed concern that the rally could have caused more coronavirus infections, meaning the lockdown could go on for longer. "I saw someone handing out candy to little kids barehanded," she said. "We know that this rally endangered people. This kind of activity will put more people at risk and, sadly, it could prolong the amount of time we have to be in this posture." (Read more Michigan stories.)